As a freelance writer for The Technovore, how I get offered to review products is through messages such as these (see below) from our dear EIC, Sal.

Despite the informality (aka BIL to SIL), I’m still excited to be able to review a camera for the first time ever! So thus, I had in my hands, approximately for two weeks, the Sony ZV-1 II vlogging camera. Let me just put a disclaimer here that the last time I used an actual camera was way back in 2014. That was almost a decade ago!!! I’ve been using my phone to snap photos ever since then.

Let’s get on to the basic, which is what exactly is the Sony ZV-1 II camera.

Vlog Camera ZV-1 II

Sony is marketing this camera as a vlog camera, specifically designed for vloggers to use with ease in their everyday life. This is their second iteration of the ZV-1 line. However, there are 6 other vlog cameras in the ZV line.

For the price point though, the ZV-1 II is not the cheapest but not the most expensive either. At $1, 199 (inclusive of GST), it’s a pretty affordable camera for the quality that you would be getting. The ZV-1 II camera can be bought from the Sony Store, Sony Store Online, Harvey Norman and iShop Changi. The price is the same throughout although there is free delivery if you were to get from Sony Online and iShop Changi.

It also comes with a supplied wind screen which this noob happily called, the fluffy thing. A wind screen adaptor and rechargeable battery is included when you buy the camera too.

The camera comes in both black and white. We were loaned the white version and let me just say, the colour is simply *chef’s kiss*. There’s something about the body and color that makes is attractive in my eyes. Sony is also doing it’s part to reduce it’s environmental footprint by using recycled materials wherever possible.

ZV-1 II is pretty compact and portable at 105.5mm x 60.0mm x 46.7mm. It fits nicely in the palm of my hand and quite easy to bring around in my relatively small bags. The camera body is also comfortable to hold whilst shooting selfies and videos. At 292g, the camera is also very light.

ZV-1 II Features

The features included in the ZV-1 II are really to make the vloggers’ life easier and to make the the content they produce of a higher quality.

  • Wide-angle zoom lens to make framing easier. 18mm for selfies and 50mm for portraits and snapshots.
  • My Image Style to tweak brightness and color while viewing what you plan to shoot. Creative Look has ten presets to choose from.
  • 1.0-type image sensor helps to capture the footage in XAVC S format in 4K resolution at up to 30p. For slow motion footage, 120p in Full HD resolution.
  • Cinematic Vlog Setting shoots on Cinemascope aspect ratio at 24 fps. Choose your color and mood to suit your taste. The 3 levels of AF Transition Speeds allows you to bring your subject into focus at your preferred pace.
  • Sony’s 1.0-type Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor includes a DRAM memory chip which gives you an ultra-fast data processing speed. High resolution and high sensitivity imaging in the palm of your hands.
  • Real-time Tracking ensures that your subject is always in focus by recognizing colors, brightness, subject distance and also facial information. Tapping the subject on the screen will activate Touch Tracking .
  • Accurate autofocus recognizes human faces and eyes to ensure that it keeps track of the main subject.
  • Face Priority AE automatically brighten your face and there’s the Soft Skin Effect with 4 levels to adjust your skin smoothness.
  • Active Mode minimizes camera blur so you can shoot while walking.
  • Built-in Intelligent 3-Capsule Mic switches the direction of the built-in mic from [All Directions] to [Front] when the camera recognizes a human face in the frame. The supplied wind screen reduces wind noise and captures clearer audio outdoors when attached.

There’s a lot more features to the camera but these are the ones that I’m choosing to highlight as they were used in this review.

Quite honestly, the ZV-1 II is simple and straightforward to use. At this junction, I can honestly say that even after a decade of not handling a camera, this is fool-proof. From shooting videos to capturing pictures, the content turned out great. In fact, wait for the food content. The food comes out looking *exquisite* and drool-worthy.

Let’s move on the various test shots and videos.

The Test, Part One in JB!

My initial plan was to do a vlog-style review of the Sony ZV-1 II camera whilst on our JB trip. But two very young kids basically prevented that. But, here’s a snippet of some shots and videos I managed to capture while there!

We stayed at Suasana Suites, which was behind Komtar and we were able to see the CIQ from our apartment. I took the chance to test out the zoom feature from the 30th storey of the building.

This was on Sunday morning, 3rd September. The jam on the causeway provided the perfect opportunity to test out the zoom and the focus of the camera. As you can see, the ZV-1 II picked out the cars clear enough from quite a distance and it only took seconds to focus on the cars instead of the balcony railings. I didn’t go out to the balcony mainly because the aircon compressor was above and water was dripping down lol.

At the same time, the ZV-1 II was able to pick up the background noise (aka the children’s toys, muted conversations) quite clearly.

The selfie shot turned out great. The skin smooth feature was turned on to mid but I did not adjust any other settings. You can see that the background of the picture has been blurred and the focus is on my face. The colors really pop and my red lipstick looked exceptionally bright. I’m really impressed by how the camera picked out the hints of pink blush on my cheeks.

However, there was a slight fail on the group shot. I’m not sure why / how but some of the pictures turned out blurry. ZV-1 II somehow did not focus on the faces, which was a bummer.

You can clearly see where the camera blurred out the faces instead of focusing on them. For the mirror shot I did try to tap on the faces to activate the tracking but, nope.

It was not a complete failure though! Some group shots did turn out great.

I was especially impressed with the picture on the right as it was quite dim where we were standing. You could see the brightness at the background as there was a huge floor to ceiling window at our back. But ZV-1 II managed to ensure that our faces were clearly captured.

I love how the colors of the balls turned out here. Even though the place was poorly lit at some parts, the Sony ZV-1 II managed to lighten the dark parts (left side of the picture) while still keep the bright parts equally bright. The colors retain their brightness without turning out dull or washed out.

ZV-1 II Second Test, in SG!

I tested out the videos twice again on two different days, once without the wind screen and once with.

The first video, was without wind screen. I was at a small park at Telok Ayer. It was a pretty quiet day and there wasn’t anyone around. There were some vehicles moving since the park was right beside some small roads. The video picked up my voice quite clearly and there were some background noise but not overly so that it drowns out my voice.

The second video is with the wind screen attached. I was going to speak but my husband was talking instead so I went ahead with the recording. As you can hear, the background noise of us walking was not as loud and my husband’s voice was much clearer compared to the first video above.

For both videos, I was walking and the footage was quite stable, without any shakiness to it. The camera also adjusted the lighting on our faces as I moved it to the side and front.

What really blew me away was ZV-1 II recording of the food. The zoom, autofocus and resolution basically leveled up this amateur’s attempt at food vlogging.

The Restaurant and Food test

Restaurant Aisyah is a Chinese Muslim restaurant in Telok Ayer. It’s a small, quaint restaurant in a shophouse and there was no natural lighting. However, from the video, you can’t tell that it’s dim at all. The ZV-1 II managed to adjust the lighting to a level that brightens it up.

The interior of Restaurant Aisyah is relatively dim but again, ZV-1 II managed to adjust the lighting automatically whilst recording the footage. Also, peep at the autofocus that kicks in as I was flipping the menu. The food was delicious btw. Go and try.

Do you see the glistening of the food? The crispiness of the chicken skin? The steam from the dishes? Sis is hungry again watching the footage please. Can you get this using your phone? I definitely wont be able to recreate this using my phone.

Creators’ App + Creators’ Cloud

Sony has the Creators’ App which makes transferring footage from the camera to your phone effortless. You also have the option to control the camera from your phone, which I did not try out. To my utter regret now…

There’s also the Creators’ Cloud which makes access to your footages easier from your laptop. It comes with 25GB of storage, but you are able to upgrade to 100GB and 500GB.

The conclusion?

I want this camera. I am supremely tempted to get this camera especially for our family trips. I want more time with this camera. I was extremely sad when it was time to return the camera.

I love how the pictures, the footage comes out. I love the clarity, I love the compact-ness of the camera. I love how easy it is to use the camera.

While I believe the our phones do produce good quality pictures and videos, some things just can’t be compromised. Great vloggers definitely don’t use their phones for their content producing. If you are just starting out or simply looking for a camera that might fulfil that wish for a great pictures and videos, definitely consider the Sony ZV-1 II.

Bye ZV-1 II. I miss you already.

Occasional writer here. Full-time mother in real life.